It seems that as I encounter people and tell them what I do for a living I am starting to get the same response and suggestion from people. It goes something like this: “I’m an interior designer and I own my own firm. We do commercial & residential interior design.”
“Oh, wow that sounds fun! You know what neighborhood you should really get into…those people have large incomes and a lot of money, you would do well over there.”
I am aiming to dispel the myth that you have to have loads of disposable income in order to get help and assistance from a good designer. Now I know I can’t speak for every design firm in town, and yes there will always be people who have a lot of income, but it is just quite plainly not true that you need to have a lot of money to work with a designer – scratch that: you don’t need a lot of money to work with a good, honest, reputable, client-focused designer.
But the budget, and the fees…
Here is how many people start a remodeling or design project. They ask some friends what their project costs, vendor fees, contractor labor costs were, etc. and they do a little research online to come to a conclusion about how much money they would like to spend in all on their project. This is great, and I highly recommend that clients do their research!
Then somewhere along the way they get on Pinterest, Houzz, HGTV, read some magazines, and figure out what they want it to look like. All very good, because having a vision is important. And most designers prefer clients who have a rough understanding of what they like and want.
Usually it is at this point that the client will come to the crux of deciding to hire a designer or just go strait to a contractor, and sadly this is where many people loose the value in what working with a designer can offer. But I think I have figured out where the misunderstanding lies. You see, the client has a budget, and the designer charges a fee.
Let’s do some math!
If you were set to spend, lets say $25,000 on a modest kitchen remodel and you knew that the designer was most likely going to take 7-10% of that in fees you might start to panic at the thought of adding $2,500 to your total project costs, right? But here is where we as designers have a responsibility to our clients. It is our job to educate you about how we can help!
Oftentimes we are are privy to trade discount and can end up saving our clients 15-25% on total project costs. Not only that, but at Spark Interiors we have positive relationships with contractors who give us preferred labor pricing as well as scheduling preference. (As do many other good designers).
So suddenly your $25,000 kitchen becomes $21, 250 and yes I am still going to charge you 10% (most likely) and make my $2,100 on top of it..but BOOM you just spent a grand total of $23,350 for a $25,000 kitchen and hardly had to lift a finger.
Time, time, what about time?
What is your most valuable resource? TIME. Everybody seems to be short of it these days, and we all just keep adding to our day-timers, calendars, agendas…do you really want to spend the extra time on something that you have only watched a few good shows about on TV?
We are educated in design (I have a BFA in interior design), and we are required to take continuing education credits every year to stay up on product safety, manufacturing process, install guidelines, building codes, etc. So we have the answers right in our back pocket, and if we don’t have the answer chances are that we are one connection away from someone who does. I personally am at the building department almost weekly, I have contacts in IIDA, I keep in touch with professors from college, and other architects and designers are people that I regularly mingle with. I can get your question answered – and fast.
As for time making design decisions and finding the appropriate products, the same is true. It is my job to always be in the field and in the know. It might take you two, four. even five days to find the right sofa or office furniture, but designers can ask you a few clarifying questions and take about 2-3 hours to find you the perfect fit.
As I mentioned earlier, we are always working with the same amazing contractors and they give us privilege in scheduling since we are always bringing them work, so we can actually get your project booked faster than if you were to call yourself.
Of course there is an exception to this rule of designers always saving you time and money and that is in the case of the Do-It-Yourselfer. We are happy to consult on an hourly basis and help these adventurous folks make some decisions along the way, but honestly we are just not a good fit for this type of client – and that is okay! I am a DIYer at heart, and totally respect and admire the spirit within, so go on with your bad self and do that project! We are here to bounce questions off of and offer short and simple advice if you need it.
Living the dream
I hope this was helpful and will give you a bit more understanding as you move forward with your design projects! A passionate and positive designer who is client-focused and willing to extend discounts is who you should always be on the lookout for. And of course, I think Spark Interiors is pretty much the best design gig in town…but I am always happy to refer folks to one of my fabulous and reputable colleagues as well.
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